Why it mattersA number of different diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and dementia, could potentially be treated by slowing aging.
Key playersUnity Biotechnology, Alkahest, Mayo Clinic, Oisín Biotechnologies, Siwa Therapeutics
AvailabilityLess than 5 years
Drugs that try to treat ailments by targeting a natural aging process in the body have shown promise.
The first wave of a new class of anti-aging drugs have begun human testing. These drugs won’t let you live longer (yet) but aim to treat specific ailments by slowing or reversing a fundamental process of aging.
The drugs are called senolytics—they work by removing certain cells that accumulate as we age. Known as “senescent” cells, they can create low-level inflammation that suppresses normal mechanisms of cellular repair and creates a toxic environment for neighboring cells.
In June, San Francisco–based Unity Biotechnology reported initial results in patients with mild to severe osteoarthritis of the knee. Results from a larger clinical trial are expected in the second half of 2020. The company is also developing similar drugs to treat age-related diseases of the eyes and lungs, among other conditions.
Senolytics are now in human tests, along with a number of other promising approaches targeting the biological processes that lie at the root of aging and various diseases.
A company called Alkahest injects patients with components found in young people’s blood and says it hopes to halt cognitive and functional decline in patients suffering from mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. The company also has drugs for Parkinson’s and dementia in human testing.
And in December, researchers at Drexel University College of Medicine even tried to see if a cream including the immune-suppressing drug rapamycin could slow aging in human skin.
The tests reflect researchers’ expanding efforts to learn if the many diseases associated with getting older—such as heart diseases, arthritis, cancer, and dementia—can be hacked to delay their onset.
This startup wants to copy you into an embryo for organ harvesting
With plans to create realistic synthetic embryos, grown in jars, Renewal Bio is on a journey to the horizon of science and ethics.
VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence
On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.
This artist is dominating AI-generated art. And he’s not happy about it.
Greg Rutkowski is a more popular prompt than Picasso.
This nanoparticle could be the key to a universal covid vaccine
Ending the covid pandemic might well require a vaccine that protects against any new strains. Researchers may have found a strategy that will work.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.